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My first review as a Ruby on Rails programmer is tomorrow. This is my first performance review ever. What should I do to prepare myself? Should I study anything? Should I review my own work history?

I have worked for the company since 2012, and transferred into a position as junior programmer in July last year. I had been studying different programming languages for about 12 years prior to that.

A little more context: my boss has admitted he has limited knowledge with programming. For that reason, he has hired a specialist outsider to conduct these "30 minute interviews" in order to

"give us an overview and better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses as a team...help discover [any holes] and give a recommendation on what we should do"

I know that I'm good at my job, but I have had incidents in the past that lead me to believe my boss disagrees with that. This quote from his e-mail makes me nervous, but I don't want to over-think it.

Should I be concerned about this specialist, or the length of time allotted to the review?

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It's always good to prep for your performance review. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Review your work over the past year and develop a list of your major accomplishments. It may be too late to use this information to influence your review, but you should be prepared to speak in terms of specific examples when discussing any particular aspects of your performance.

  2. Think about any questions you want to ask, or comments that you want to make, and make notes if necessary. These may be questions or requests for information about your own career development, observations about improvements that could be made to your working environment or your processes, or anything else that you think is relevant.

  3. Think about potential review points to put yourself in the right frame of mind. You probably already have a good idea of some of the things that will be addressed in your review. If you expect it to be mostly positive, be prepared to be gracious; if you expect some negative points to be raised, think about how you want to address them. In either case, you will be more self-assured and provide better feedback if you think about the possibilities in advance.

  • I've just added some more detail, if you wouldn't mind checking it out again? – Crash May 1 '14 at 14:20
  • @Crash, I don't think the additional detail changes my answer substantially. You want to make an honest assessment of your accomplishments, your environment, and your goals. Keep it positive and focus on your willingness to help and to learn. – Roger May 1 '14 at 23:27
  • It sounds as if your boss is unsure of his own role, and this review may have as much to do with that as with any perceived shortcomings on the part of you or your team members. – Roger May 1 '14 at 23:28
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  1. Look over the past year for major accomplishments. What were the good things you did in the past year that are worth highlighting?

  2. Look over the past year for major issues. What where the less than good things that happened that you've learned lessons and improved?

  3. Goals for the upcoming year. What focus do you want to have in the coming year? What are some areas for improvement where you'll do some work?

  4. Compensation. What kind of salary adjustment do you think you earned? While this may not come up, I have seen in some of my past reviews where salary is discussed along with performance as well as bonuses.

Thus, I'd advise looking over the past year as well as preparing for the upcoming year.

4

In a good performance review, there should be no surprises on either side.

Expanding on Rogers answer.

Going forward I would recommend to document your accomplishments and critical issues at the point of them happening. Do not leave it a week/days before your review.

It should be a one liner, a 2-3 line summary of the situation and what was the outcome. If it was an issue that may negatively impact you later on, also keep any correspondence during that time.

If your manager points to an issue in your performance in the review, you can then back it up with what actions took place.

If they mention something that you have not documented, you can push back on it and say why wasn't it brought up at the time when something could be done about it? If you don't keep this history, you can't back such a situation up.

You should also have a 1-3-5 year plan. Discuss with your manager your plan (if it's agreed with them), and where you are in moving towards that plan.

Also when talking about situations in the review, word them in a positive fashion. For example: "These are areas we need to grow my skills in the coming year" (good) vs "I wasn't able to do X last year because I wasn't trained".

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Others have given excellent suggestions for preparation for the review.

If all is going well in your job, I suggest you think about these questions your supervisor might ask you ....

  • What are your 3-5 year goals for career development?
  • How am I doing, as your supervisor, helping you get there?
  • Is there any training, or any particular assignment, you would like to have in the year to come to help you get there?

I also suggest you ask your supervisor "how am I doing, and how is our department doing, at making the overall company successful? What can I personally do better? What can we, the department, do better?"

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After studying your problem and question, it seems that you are thinking too much about your performance review. Most people become helpless when they think about the performance review. Prove yourself with your first performance review, explain all the things that what you have done in three/six months or in one year. Talk about your key achievements. Develop a detailed agenda about your work and experience. Use the particular result-oriented language in your documentation. Don't become defensive, because a good boss knows about the areas that need improvement.

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